I would like to share a few thoughts about a book that I reading right now that is relevant to this class by “Disrupting Class” by Clayton M. Christensen. If you haven’t had the chance to read it, I strongly recommend it. The book is well-researched and very insightful on the state of higher education today and a few possible directions it might take in the near future.
On page 9 of the introduction the book quotes John Adams. It says:
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
This last group, the group that has the freedom to pursue whatever they find interesting, seems to be a pretty good description of the Millennial Generation, my generation. We live in a prosperous time and should do all that we can to distribute prosperity. We were raised by the Baby Boomers, who were raised by the WWII generation. The WWII generation (if we are speaking in terms of the collective in this period, not individuals) were forced to war and had fewer options at education and career choice. Many of them worked in trade jobs their entire lives because they had little chance to further their education that was disrupted by the political conditions of the time. My great grandfather was one of them. After he came back from WWII he was a painter. Because he was a painter his whole life he made sure that his four sons had the chance to go to college to study engineering, math, science, business, etc. His son, my grandfather, the first of his family to go college studied physics. A little later my father went to college to study engineering. Both physics and engineering are intensely difficult subjects to study. I took one course in statics and one course in introductory physics….and no more. My grandfather and father studied these subjects because these fields provide lucrative employment opportunities, and not necessarily because they are in love with the second law of thermodynamics. Because of their hard work and sacrifice I was recipient of opportunities that my progenitors never had. For possibly the first time in my family history, I had the chance to study WHATEVER I wanted. What a privilege that was! Also, what a responsibility.
I now have two daughters and I will encourage them to study what they are interested in and what they can become gainfully employed in. I want to them to be able to support themselves, to pursue prosperity, however they define it, and to pass it on to their children, and their neighbors, in even greater abundance than they received it.